Farewell to Candy Bartoldus

Candy will absolutely hate me writing about her but now she has left the country, l feel safe in the knowledge she cannot come and get me….! And l want to write about her brilliance.

Candy Bartoldus arrived in Britain from Washington three years ago. Her husband was working at the American Embassy so Candy needed to do something to keep herself busy. She turned up at St. James, Spanish Place where as most of you know there is an established music tradition, and asked Fr Christoper Colven, the parish priest there, if she could start a Gregorian Chant group. Fr Colven apparently asked her how many she thought might turn up and Candy said, “maybe about ten.”  Well after three years, the small chant group often has forty people singing at the 6.30pm Sunday Mass once a month. The group also meet every Wednesday evening to sing Compline in Latin.

I met Candy at the Gregorian Chant course organised by Neville McNally at Portsmouth Cathedral. My friend Stan Metheny had said to me, you need to meet Candy, unaware that we were both attending the same course. l had no idea who Candy was but then suddenly this tall American came up to me and said “you can sing chant” we should sing together, and so we did, and our female voice group Scholae Scholasticae was formed with the now director of chant at St James’ and the Director of Music at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen.

And from there Candy organised for our Schola to start visiting St. Cecilia’s on the Abbey and studying with Sister Bernadette, the choir director at the Abbey.

She then got Dom Ives-Marie the then choir director at Solesmes over to run a two day course which was attended by over sixty people, she took a group of us to Tyniec Monastery in Poland to study with the abbot there, and now she has produced an incredibly comprehensive hymnal combining the work of the Parish Book of the Chant, the Liber Hymnnarius and other Solesmes publications.

On Wednesday evening we sang together at St James’ for the Vigil Mass of All Saints and said goodbye to Candy as she heads home to Washington. She now leaves an established Gregorian Chant group at St James’ which Martina has now taken over, a female voice Schola and a lot of people who have re-discovered the joy of singing the music of our Catholic traditon.

Candy will be missed, but with that kind of legacy, she’s bound to be back soon. Thanks to you Candy for your inspiration.


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